Posts Tagged ‘AAA Approved Auto Repair’

Heather HunterFueled by a drop in fourth quarter gas prices and increased fuel economy, average cost for sedans decreases 2.7 percent to 59.2 cents per mile

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 9, 2014) – AAA released the results of its annual ‘Your Driving Costs’ study today, revealing a 2.7 percent decrease in the cost to own and operate a sedan in the U.S. The average cost fell 1.64 cents to 59.2 cents per mile, or $8,876 per year, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.

Additional Resources

“Despite increases in maintenance and registration fees, American motorists are experiencing an overall decrease in the cost to own and operate a vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “A large decrease in fuel costs, and lower tire, insurance and depreciation expenses are saving owners more than one and a half cents on every mile they drive.”

The findings of the 2014 ‘Your Driving Costs’ study include:

Based on Driving 15,000 miles annually

Small

Sedan

Medium Sedan

Large Sedan

Sedan Average

SUV 4WD

Minivan

Cost Per Mile

46.4 cents

58.9 cents

72.2 cents

59.2 cents

73.6 cents

65.0 cents

Cost Per Year

$6,957

$8,839

$10,831

$8,876

$11,039

$9,753

In-depth findings of this year’s study, including a breakdown of specific costs by category of vehicle and various annual mileages, are contained in the ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure which is available at select local AAA branch offices or may be downloaded at the AAA Newsroom.

Nielsen continued, “The true cost of vehicle ownership involves more than the sticker price and what you pay at the pump. Before you make any vehicle purchase, it is important to determine ownership and operational costs and compare them to your current and future financial situation.” To assist consumers in determining their individual driving costs, the AAA ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure contains a worksheet that can be filled out and personalized for a specific area, driver and vehicle.

Fuel Costs Down more than 10 Percent

Fuel costs had the single largest percentage decrease from 2013 to 2014, declining 10.04 percent to 13 cents per mile. The average cost of regular grade fuel fell 5.96 percent, from $3.486 to $3.278 per gallon. At the same time, vehicle redesigns and improved power train technologies that take into account higher federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards has the effect of improving the average fuel economy of sedans used in the study.  Fuel costs in the 2014 study were calculated using the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline during the fourth quarter of 2013.

Maintenance Costs Up 1.81 Percent

This year maintenance costs increased nearly two percent to 5.06 per mile on average for sedan owners. AAA’s estimates are based upon the cost to maintain a vehicle and perform needed repairs for five years and 75,000 miles, including labor expenses, replacement part prices and the purchase of an extended warranty policy.  For 2014, some vehicles had lower costs due to longer service intervals or reduced labor times, while others experienced an increase in labor times and/or part prices that led to a rise in maintenance costs. AAA experts also identified an increasing number of vehicles requiring low-viscosity semi- or full-synthetic motor oils, which cost more than conventional oils but provide better fuel economy, added engine protection and allow for longer oil change intervals.

Tire Costs Decrease Three Percent
After several years of increases due rising costs for raw materials, energy and transportation, tire prices for 2014 have decreased three percent to 0.97 cents per mile. The decrease can be credited to two main factors; some redesigned sedans now come equipped with less expensive tires and some tire prices have declined.

Insurance Costs Decrease 0.58 Percent

In 2014, average insurance costs remain essentially unchanged at an average annual cost of $1,023, compared to $1,029 last year. Insurance rates vary widely by driver and driving record, issuing company and geographical region. AAA insurance cost estimates are based on a low-risk driver with a clean driving record and for 2014 this group saw a negligible premium decrease. Premium quotes, covering seven states across the country and insurance companies from five AAA clubs, showed minor declines for most small and medium sedans, with large cars having small increases.

Depreciation Costs Fall 1.71 Percent

After a small rise in depreciation last year, the tide has turned and depreciation decreased for 2014 to $3,510 per year from $3,571. While the numbers are improved in all three sedan categories, they are particularly strong in the medium-size area where several very desirable redesigned models have been introduced.

64th Year of ‘Your Driving Costs’ Study

AAA has published ‘Your Driving Costs’ since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost 9 cents per mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents per gallon.

The ‘Your Driving Costs’ study employs a proprietary AAA methodology to analyze the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the United States. Variable operating costs considered in the study include fuel, maintenance and repair, and tires. Fixed ownership costs factored into the results include insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. Ownership costs are calculated based on the purchase of a new vehicle that is driven over five years and 75,000 miles. Your actual operating costs may vary. See AAA’s 2013 ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure for a list of vehicles and additional information on the underlying criteria used in the study.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Ginnie PritchettAAA, the nation’s largest motor club, shares useful tips for drivers during Car Care Month

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 1, 2013) – October is Car Care Month and AAA is reminding drivers about the importance of properly maintaining their vehicles. There are a few simple things every driver can do to make sure their car is ready for the road.

“Learning how to handle common maintenance issues is beneficial to anyone who gets behind the wheel,” said John Nielsen, managing director of AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Proper maintenance can extend the life of your vehicle and help prevent costly repairs.”

Below are four simple car care practices AAA recommends every motorist perform on a regular basis:

Additional Resources

Check the Air and Wear of Your Tires

83% of American do not know how to properly inflate their tires, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association. The pressure on all tires—including the spare— should be checked monthly, with a quality gauge when the tires are cold. Proper pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker most often located on the driver-side door jamb. Do not use the pressure stamped on the sidewall of the tire. Note that the pressure levels on some cars are different for the front and rear tires.

Check the tread depth on each tire by placing a quarter upside down in the tread grooves. If the top of Washington’s head is exposed at any point, it’s time to start shopping for new tires. Also, look for uneven tire wear when checking the tread. This can be an indication of suspension, wheel balance or alignment problems that need to be addressed.

Every driver at some point deals with a flat tire. Click here for a step-by-step video that shows how to prepare for and repair or replace a flat tire.

Ensure Your Car Battery is Properly Charged

Extreme temperatures break down car batteries internally and can accelerate the rate of corrosion on battery terminals, leading to insufficient electrical power and the risk of being stranded without warning.

At every oil change, check the battery cables and ensure they are securely attached to the terminals. Clean the terminals if there are signs of corrosion. Disconnecting the cables to clean the hidden areas where they contact the battery terminals is the best way to remove external corrosion.  Most car batteries have a three to five year service life, depending on local climate and vehicle usage patterns. If your battery is getting old, have it tested at a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop or by using AAA Mobile Battery Service to determine if it needs to be replaced.

Keep Those Wipers Working

Inspect the wiper blades monthly. Check to see if they are worn, cracked or rigid with age.  Damaged wiper blades won’t adequately remove debris, compromising the driver’s vision and safety. The life of a rubber insert is typically six to 12 months depending on its exposure to heat, dirt, sunlight, acid rain, and ozone.  Streaking and chattering are common clues that the rubber is breaking down and a replacement is needed.  Click here to learn more.

The windshield washer fluid reservoir should be checked monthly. Top it off with a solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects or other debris. In winter, use a solution that will not freeze at low temperatures. Also, test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim before leaving on a trip.

Work with a Local Repair Shop You Trust

Every car requires routine maintenance and repair. The best time to find a mechanic or auto repair shop is before you need one. Start by asking friends and family for recommendations of repair shops and mechanics. Visit www.aaa.com/repair to find nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, take your vehicle to your top candidate shop for routine maintenance. While there, talk with the employees and take a look at the facility and consider the following questions:

  • Does the facility have up to date equipment?
  • Were you offered a written estimate?
  • Does the shop offer a nationwide warranty on parts and labor?
  • Are customer areas clean, comfortable and well organized?

Click here for more on finding the right automotive repair shop for you.

When having your car serviced, follow the factory recommended maintenance schedule to avoid under- or over-maintaining your vehicle.  Oil changes, tire rotations, changing transmission fluid, and replacing an air filter are the types of routine maintenance recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. The maintenance schedule for these services and more can be found in the vehicle owner’s manual.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Ginnie PritchettAs summer travel revs up, nation’s largest motor club cautions drivers of dangers on the open road if not properly prepared

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 29, 2013) – More than 31 million Americans kicked off the summer travel season with a road trip Memorial Day weekend, but plans were damped for approximately a quarter of a million motorists that AAA  needed to rescue at the roadside.  AAA expects between the major summer holidays of Memorial Day and Labor Day to aid over eight million motorists, and cautions drivers that auto maintenance is key to avoiding summertime travel breakdowns.

“The best way to avoid a breakdown during a trip is to ensure your car is properly maintained before hitting the road,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “But unexpected breakdowns can still occur so for your safety and security, and that of your passengers, be sure to have access to a roadside assistance provider like AAA.”

AAA recommends that motorists perform the following maintenance tasks before hitting the road. An acronym of S.A.F.E.T.R.I.P. is used to help motorists remember these essential tasks.

Service your Battery

AAA will assist nearly 1.6 million motorists with dead batteries during the summer driving season—replacing more than 500,000 batteries at the roadside. Summer heat breaks down car batteries internally and accelerates the rate of corrosion on the terminals. Both conditions can lead to insufficient electrical power being available and leave a motorist stranded without warning. Depending on local climate and vehicle usage patterns, most car batteries have a three to five year service life. If your battery is more than three years old, have it tested by a professional technician to help avoid unexpected trouble.

Air Conditioning Check
A vehicle without air conditioning can be a hot and uncomfortable environment for travelers during the summer months. Automotive air conditioning systems do not require routine maintenance, but a system that is operating marginally is more likely to fail in hot weather. If you have noticed a decrease in cooling capability, have your air conditioning system examined by a qualified technician before setting out on a trip.

Fluids for Windshield Washer/Wipers

Rain, insects, grime and other debris on a windshield will compromise the driver’s vision and safety. The life of a rubber wiper insert is typically six to 12 months depending on its exposure to heat, dirt, sunlight and rain. If your wipers leave streaks or cannot clear the windshield in one swipe they should be replaced. Also, check the windshield washer fluid level and top it off with a solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects and other debris. Be sure to test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim before leaving on a trip.

Emergency Roadside Kit

While preventative measures go a long way toward minimizing breakdowns, unexpected vehicle problems can still arise. AAA encourages motorists to update their emergency roadside kit every season. The kit should include a mobile phone and car charger; a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; extra snacks/food for your travelers and any pets; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.

Tire Inflation and Condition

“Roughly one million drivers will call AAA for help with a flat tire during the summer travel season, and many of those problems could be avoided with a quick tire inspection,” said Nielsen. “Begin every tire inspection with a pressure check when the tires are cold and the car has not been driven recently.” Use a quality gauge to make sure all five tires are inflated to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer—this can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker usually attached to the driver’s door jamb, or sometimes inside the gas cap door. Properly inflated tires increase safety and fuel economy, which will reduce fuel costs during a trip. Finally, inspect the tread depth and overall condition of the tires. Worn tires in need of replacement are much more likely to suffer punctures and other problems.

Regular Maintenance

This summer, AAA will remedy over half of motorists’ car problems at the roadside and get them back on the go. However, an estimated 3.5 million drivers will suffer more significant troubles and need towing to a place of repair. If it’s almost time for scheduled maintenance, have your car serviced before a trip. If it has been some time since the vehicle last saw the inside of a repair shop, consider having it thoroughly inspected by a qualified technician who can identify potential problems before they put a damper on any travel plans.

Inspect under the Hood: Belts, Hoses and Fluids

Replace accessory drive belts that are cracked, glazed or frayed, as well as coolant hoses that are visibly worn, brittle, bulging or excessively soft. Check for leaks around hose clamps and at the radiator and water pump. Check the engine coolant level, along with that of other important under hood fluids such as the engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid and power steering fluid. A low fluid level could indicate a leak or other problem that should be checked out by a professional technician.

Prepare and Plan Ahead
Part of the fun of taking a road trip is planning it. Chart out driving routes and, when possible, reserve your accommodations in advance. Be prepared for busy roads during the popular travel times   and, if possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid traffic. For increased safety, assign a passenger as the designated texter/caller to avoid distracted driving. AAA recommends drivers allow plenty of time to reach their destinations, and stop in a safe location every 100 miles or two hours to avoid drowsy or fatigued driving.

If any part of the road trip vehicle preparation process seems overwhelming, AAA can help consumers identify quality auto repair shops to assist in the maintenance and repair of their vehicles. AAA offers the Approved Auto Repair program as a free public service. Repair facilities approved by AAA meet and maintain stringent standards for training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Motorists can look for the Approved Auto Repair sign at local shops, or search for a nearby AAA-approved shops online at AAA.com/Repair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Ginnie PritchettIncrease in maintenance, insurance and fuel drive up average cost for sedans to $9,122 yearly, 60.8 cents per mile

ORLANDO, Fla., (April 16, 2013) – AAA released the results of its annual ‘Your Driving Costs’ study today, revealing a 1.96 percent increase in the cost to own and operate a sedan in the U.S. The average cost rose 1.17 cents to 60.8 cents per mile, or $9,122 per year, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.

“Many factors go into the cost calculation of owning and operating a vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “This year, changes in maintenance, fuel and insurance costs resulted in the increase to just over 60 cents a mile.”

The findings of the 2013 ‘Your Driving Costs’ study include:

Based on Driving 15,000 miles annually

Small

Sedan

Medium Sedan

Large Sedan

Sedan Average

SUV 4WD

Minivan

Cost Per Mile

46.4 cents

61.0 cents

75.0 cents

60.8 cents

77.3 cents

65.3 cents

Cost Per Year

$6,967

$9,151

$11,248

$9,122

$11,599

$9,795

Additional Resources

In-depth findings of this year’s study, including a breakdown of specific costs by category of vehicle and various annual mileages, are contained in the ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure which is available at select local AAA branch offices or may be downloaded in the additional resources bar.

Nielsen continued, “Before you make any vehicle purchase, it is important to determine ownership and operational costs and compare them to your current and future financial situation.” To assist consumers in determining their individual driving costs, the AAA ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure contains a worksheet that can be filled out and personalized for a specific area, driver and vehicle.

Maintenance Costs Up 11.26 Percent

The costs associated with maintaining a vehicle had the single largest percentage increase from 2012 to 2013, growing by 11.26 percent to 4.97 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. AAA’s estimates are based upon the cost to maintain a vehicle and perform needed repairs for five years and 75,000 miles including labor expenses, replacement part prices and the purchase of an extended warranty policy.  Driving the increase in maintenance costs is significant increases in labor and part costs for some models and a major increase in the price of extended warranty policies due to high loss ratios by underwriters.

Fuel Costs Up 1.93 Percent

Gasoline prices were relatively stable compared to the prior year, leading to a minimal fuel cost increase of 1.93 percent to 14.45 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. The average cost of regular grade fuel (used by most of the study vehicles) actually rose 3.84 percent, from $3.357 to $3.486 per gallon. However, several vehicles in the ‘Your Driving Costs’ study had small improvements in their fuel economy ratings which partially offset the fuel cost increase. Fuel costs in the 2013 study were calculated using the national average price for regular, unleaded gasoline during the fourth quarter of 2012.

Tire Costs Remain Unchanged
The cost of tires did not change from 2012 to 2013, remaining at one cent per mile on average for sedan owners. The stable price is attributed to a leveling off of past increased costs for raw materials, energy and transportation from factories to distributors across the country.

Insurance Costs Up 2.76 Percent

Average insurance costs for sedans rose 2.76 percent (or $28) to $1029 annually. Insurance rates vary widely by driver and driving record, issuing company and geographical region. AAA insurance cost estimates are based on a low-risk driver with a clean driving record. Quotes from five AAA clubs and insurance companies representing seven states showed across-the-board modest increases for all sedan sizes, with large cars having less of an increase than small- and medium-size sedans.

Depreciation Costs Rise .78 Percent

After seeing a drop in 2012, depreciation costs were up slightly in 2013, increasing .78 percent to $3,571 a year. This change may be a consequence of recovering new vehicle sales, resulting in more used cars available in the marketplace and thus the softening of the resale value of clean older models.

63rd Year of ‘Your Driving Costs’ Study

AAA has published ‘Your Driving Costs’ since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost 9 cents per mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents per gallon.

The ‘Your Driving Costs’ study employs a proprietary AAA methodology to analyze the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the United States. Variable operating costs considered in the study include fuel, maintenance and repair, and tires. Fixed ownership costs factored into the results include insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. Ownership costs are calculated based on the purchase of a new vehicle that is driven over five years and 75,000 miles. Your actual operating costs may vary. See AAA’s 2013 ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure for a list of vehicles and additional information on the underlying criteria used in the study.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA cautions drivers to prepare for winter driving before the flakes start to fall

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 18, 2012) –   Nearly one-quarter of weather related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement,  resulting in more than 1,300 deaths and 116,800 people injured annually, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration.  With AccuWeather’s winter forecast calling for above-normal snowfall in some parts of the country and the first official day of winter December 21, AAA recommends motorists brush up on winter driving techniques before the weather outside turns frightful.

Additional Resources

Prepare Your Vehicle for Use in Ice and Snow

Before winter conditions hit, it’s important to prepare your car for harsh winter weather. AAA’s Winter Car Care Checklist can help determine a vehicle’s winter maintenance needs. Many of the items on the list can be inspected by a car owner in less than an hour, but others should be performed by a certified technician. The AAA Winter Car Care Checklist can be found here.

Drive Distraction Free

It is also important when driving in winter conditions to drive distraction-free and in the right frame of mind. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash.  AAA recommends if you are with a passenger, enlist the passenger’s help to carry out activities that would otherwise distract you from driving safely.

Do Not Use Cruise Control and Avoid Tailgating

Normal following distances of three to four seconds for dry pavement should be increased to eight to 10 seconds when driving on icy, slippery surfaces. This extra time will allow for extra braking distance should a sudden stop become necessary.  If driving on a four-lane highway, stay in the clearest lane; avoid changing lanes and driving over built-up snow. Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery (wet, ice, snow, sand) surface; not using cruise control will allow you to respond instantly when you lift your foot off the accelerator.

Know When to Brake and When to Steer

Some driving situations require abrupt action to avoid a crash or collision and in winter conditions the decision to steer or brake can have very different outcomes. When travelling over 25 MPH, AAA recommends steering over braking to avoid a collision in wintery conditions, as less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop.  In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of vehicle control.

However, sometimes steering is not an option. Braking on slippery surfaces requires you to look further head and increased following and stopping distances.  Plan stopping distances as early as possible and always look 20-30 seconds ahead of your vehicle to ensure you have time and space to stop safely. Shaded spots, bridges, overpasses and intersections are areas where ice is likely to form first and will be the most slippery. It is important to adjust your braking habits as road conditions change.

Stay in Control Through a Skid

Even careful drivers can experience skids. When a vehicle begins to skid, it’s important to not panic and follow these basic steps:

  • Continue to look and steer in the direction the car needs to go.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle’s balance and make it harder to control.

If you find your vehicle stuck in the snow, AAA members needing assistance can request roadside rescue at (800) AAA-HELP.  Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA’s mobile smartphone app that provides AAA services for all motorists, such as mapping and gas price comparison, as well as member-exclusive benefits including roadside assistance and discounts.  AAA Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is necessary to take advantage of unique member benefits such as roadside assistance.  For more information on AAA Mobile, visit AAA.com/Mobile. These tips and additional information on driving in winter conditions can be found in the AAA brochure How to Go on Ice and Snow online.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Proper vehicle maintenance can help holiday travelers avoid trouble on the road

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 14, 2012) – As 84.4 million travelers take to the roads for the year-end holiday, AAA anticipates coming to the assistance of more than 1.2 million stranded motorists between December 19, 2012, and January 2, 2013. The nation’s largest motor club will be busy with lockouts, battery replacements, jump starts, changing tires, extricating vehicles from snow, towing vehicles for repair and more.

“Becoming stranded on the roadway is the last thing on anyone’s holiday wish list,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA National Vice President, Automotive, Financial Services and E-Business.  “Whether you are staying local or planning a long distance road trip, having your vehicle properly maintained and prepared for holiday driving will help ensure it gets you and your loved ones to your destination safely and without incident.”

Additional Resources

AAA projects its roadside problem-solvers will be able to remedy the issues of more than three out of five stranded motorists at the roadside and send them on their way, but the remaining travelers will still need a tow this year-end holiday season.

More than 288,000 requests for help with a dead battery are expected, and among those rescued AAA roadside service personnel will conveniently replace more than 80,000 failed batteries on the spot.   AAA also expects to retrieve more than 198,000 sets of keys locked inside vehicles, change more than 166,000 tires and perform more than 21,000 vehicle extrications during the year-end holiday period.

Drivers can avoid the causes of some roadside breakdowns by keeping their vehicles properly maintained.  AAA advises motorists to follow their vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and make sure their vehicle is ready for the rigors of year-end holiday driving.

Here are a few things to add to your list before heading out for your holiday drive:

  • Antifreeze. Check antifreeze annually to ensure it will withstand the winter cold. A 50/50 mixture of coolant and water will protect against freezing.
  • Windshield wipers and washer fluid. Replace wiper blades if they do not clear the glass in a single swipe without streaking. Where appropriate, consider the use of special winter blades that offer improved performance in snow and ice conditions. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with winter detergent fluid to prevent freeze up.
  • Tires. Cold weather reduces tire inflation pressure, so check tire pressures frequently and maintain the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure found on the driver’s door jamb—not the pressure stamped on the tire sidewall. Motorists should never reduce tire pressure in an attempt to increase traction on snow and ice. This does not work, and when the roads dry out it can cause excessive tire wear and vehicle handling problems.
  • Battery. Check for a secure fit and clean away any corrosion on the battery and its cable connections. If the battery is out of warranty, it’s advisable to have it tested before cold weather hits. If replacement is necessary, have a certified technician help select the proper battery for your vehicle type and local climate. In many areas, AAA members can make an appointment to have a AAA Battery Service technicians visit their home or office to check and replace batteries.
  • Belts and hoses. Replace accessory drive belts that are cracked, glazed or frayed, as well as coolant hoses that are visibly worn, brittle, bulging or excessively soft. Check for leaks around hose clamps and at the radiator and water pump.

Other important areas to have a certified technician check in preparation for winter include the vehicle’s fluid levels, lights, brakes, exhaust system and heater/defroster. Throughout the winter driving season, motorists should continue to have regular services, including oil and filter changes, performed at the intervals recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

While preventative measures go a long way toward keeping motorists driving safely on the road, unexpected weather or vehicle problems may still arise and leave them stranded. AAA encourages motorists to update their emergency roadside kit for winter to include a mobile phone and car charger; blankets; a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; a small shovel; a sack of sand, cat litter or traction mats; windshield scraper and brush; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.

Motorists seeking a trustworthy repair shop to help prepare their vehicle for winter driving are encouraged to visit one of AAA’s more than 8,000 Approved Auto Repair facilities. AAA’s network of approved repair shops is a free public service that enables consumers to identify professional auto shops staffed by certified technicians who are equipped with the proper tools and equipment to service today’s high-tech automobiles. Consumers can find Approved Auto Repair facilities online at AAA.com/repair.

Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA’s mobile smartphone app that provides selected AAA services for all motorists, such as mapping and gas price comparison, as well as member-exclusive benefits including roadside assistance and discounts.  AAA Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is necessary to take advantage of unique member benefits such as roadside assistance.  For more information on AAA Mobile, visit AAA.com/Mobile.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

(WASHINGTON, November 19, 2012) Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.42.  This price is two cents less expensive than one week ago and 28 cents less expensive than one month ago, however it is still five cents more expensive that one year ago and the highest price on record for this calendar day.  Today’s price continues the streak of daily record prices that began on August 20.

To begin last week, motorists in some of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy still faced long lines at the pump due to lingering regional fuel distribution issues in the aftermath of the storm.  In response to these lines, northern New Jersey, New York City and Long Island each imposed odd-even gasoline rationing policies.  As distribution has returned to normal and lines have dwindled, New Jersey ended rationing rules last Tuesday, after ten days, and Long Island lifted the restriction last Friday at midnight, after eight days.  Rationing in New York City was scheduled to end today but has been extended through Friday citing the Thanksgiving travel week.

Both long lines at the pump and gasoline rationing policies have drawn comparisons to those seen in the 1970s.  The circumstances, however, are very different.  While the recent situation was due to a temporary and regional disruption to distribution, the situation in the 1970s was due to a prolonged and nationwide supply shortage.

While pump prices in New York and New Jersey did increase following the hurricane, prices have just as quickly returned lower as power and distribution issues have been resolved.  Prices in Long Island are 16 cents lower than one week ago, prices in New York City are 11 cents lower and prices in New Jersey are eight cents lower.

Nationally, the retail price of gas has been falling steadily since mid-September.  Motorists in every state are paying less at the pump than they were one month ago, with the sole exception being drivers in Ohio. Consumers in the Buckeye State are paying one-tenth of a penny more than a month ago but still 36 cents less than in September.  Motorists in Hawaii ($4.11) and Alaska ($3.97) pay the most for a gallon of gasoline, while those in Missouri ($3.08) and South Carolina ($3.12) pay the least.

AAA expects that gas prices across the country will continue to decline approaching the end of the year, barring any major market moving news, as lower demand, cheaper winter-blend gasoline and economic concerns continue to pressure pump prices lower.

Two such potential market moving news items have been front and center over the last week: escalating violence between Israel and Palestine and the looming U.S. “fiscal cliff.”  While neither Israel nor Palestine is a major oil producer, increased geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East puts upward pressure on prices, as do signs in Washington of progress working to address economic concerns.  Oil prices last week remained flat, however developments with both stories prompted bullish market sentiment and sent prices sharply higher today.  At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil was up $2.36 on the day to settle at $89.28 per barrel — the highest settlement price since this day last month.

(WASHINGTON, November 12, 2012) Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.44.  This price is three cents less expensive than one week ago and 36 cents less expensive than one month ago. For nearly three months the national average has been the highest on record each calendar day, however that gap has almost disappeared.  One month ago the national average exceeded the previous record for that day, also set in 2011, by more than 30 cents. Today it is less than a penny and may fall below last year’s price before the end of the week.

The national average reached a recent peak of $3.87 per gallon on September 14, the day before the many parts of the country made the seasonal switch from summer- to winter-blend gasoline. Since that peak, the price has fallen 43 cents, including 31 of the past 32 days as lower crude oil prices, reduced demand, and economic growth concerns have pressured pump prices lower.  Every state and Washington, D.C. has a price today that is lower than mid-September, and in many cases the price is much lower.  However, nine states (Ill., Ind., Kent., Mich., Minn., New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Wisc.) have seen prices rise in the last week.

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, power outages in New York and New Jersey left many stations unable to operate pumps, despite gasoline in their storage tanks.  Long lines developed quickly in many areas with only a limited number of open stations. Even as power was restored to some stations, others with electricity ran out of fuel to sell because of distribution issues from closed petroleum terminals and infrastructure damage.  While stations have continued to reopen as electricity has been restored to many impacted regions, long lines have persisted as distribution and resupply issues are slowly resolved.

On Nov. 2, AAA estimated that 45-50 percent of stations in New Jersey and 40-45 percent of stations in New York City were in operation – meaning they had conducted at least one fuel transaction that day.  As of today, AAA estimates this number has improved to 70-75 percent of stations in New York City and 80-85 percent in New Jersey.

Looking up the supply chain, to the closed terminals that are currently the primary factor in distribution issues, on November 1 the Department of Energy reported that 13 of 57 terminals in the path of the storm were closed, as of today the Agency reports that seven remain shut.  The issues in restoring these terminals to normal operation is the primary reason motorists have continued to experience lines at gas stations in some areas, and has led to continued gasoline rationing in New York City and Long Island. New Jersey announced today that it is ending gasoline rationing beginning at 6:00 AM tomorrow morning.

This continues to be a distribution problem and not a systemic issue with gasoline supplies.  As petroleum terminals return to service, there is plenty of gasoline ready to make its way to stations.  Once this is able to happen, AAA expects pump prices in affected areas to follow the rest of the country lower. AAA predicts that the national average price will be $3.25-3.40 by Thanksgiving and $3.10-3.30 by the end of the year.

Lower crude oil prices have added to the recent downward pressure on retail gasoline prices.  With continued signs of global economic weakness and a somewhat stronger U.S. dollar, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices have continued to move lower.  At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI crude oil was down 50 cents on the day to settle at $85.57 per barrel.

(WASHINGTON, November 5, 2012) Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.47 — the lowest price in more than 100 days.  This price is 17 cents less expensive than one week ago and 34 cents less expensive than one month ago. The national average has been the highest on record each calendar day since late August; however the gap between this year’s price and the previous record has nearly closed.  Three weeks ago the national average exceeded the previous record for that day, also set in 2011, by more than 30 cents. Today it is only a nickel.  The national average price at the pump has now fallen for 24 consecutive days, the longest streak since prices earlier this year dropped 26 days in a row from May 15 through June 11.

The only lines longer than those expected at polling locations for tomorrow’s presidential election may be those seen during the last week at some gas stations in New York and New Jersey.  Power outages and distribution issues in the wake of Hurricane Sandy left some delivery terminals and service stations — particularly in Northern New Jersey and New York City — without electricity and thus unable to deliver gasoline to stations and consumers.  It is important for motorists to realize that this continues to be an issue of electrical supply rather than a gasoline shortage.  Once power is restored, there is more than adequate gasoline supply ready to be delivered to consumers.

The U.S. Department of Energy reported this morning that 11 of the 57 terminals affected by Hurricane Sandy remain closed.  On Friday, AAA estimated the number of stations operating in both New Jersey and New York City at 45-50% and Long Island at 35-40%.  As of this afternoon, AAA estimates that each of these numbers has improved: New Jersey – 55-60%, New York City – 60-65%, and Long Island – 50-55%.

The result of this truncated delivery system has been the sometimes long lines at those stations with power to run pumps and sell gasoline.  As power is restored in the coming days, these lines and distribution issues are expected to continue to diminish, and prices will be expected to move lower.

Since last Monday, the price at the pump has increased by three cents in New York and nearly seven cents in New Jersey.  During the same period, prices have fallen in every other state and Washington, D.C., led by declines on the West Coast: Calif. -18.5 cents, Wash. -13.6 cents, and Ore. -13 cents.  The price in every state, including New York and New Jersey, is lower today than it was one month ago.  During that time, the price has fallen by more than 40 cents in 11 states and by more than a quarter in 32 total states.

While prices in some storm affected areas have increased temporarily, ultimately the price impact of Hurricane Sandy will be due to demand destruction rather than supply destruction and pump prices will continue to decline.  When demand numbers are announced later this week, AAA expects that, in the days following the storm, American’s will have consumed one to two million barrels per day less of gasoline than in the days prior to the hurricane. This demand destruction will add to the recent downward pressure on gasoline prices from already low demand, continued economic concerns, and the switch to less expensive, winter-blend gasoline. AAA continues to predict that the national average will be $3.25-3.40 by Thanksgiving and $3.10-3.30 by the end of the year.

Lower crude oil prices have added to the recent doward pressure on retail gasoline prices.  With continued signs of global economic weakness and a somewhat stronger U.S. dollar, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices ended last week below $85 per barrel for the first time since July 10.  At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI crude oil had risen back above this threshhold, settling down 79 cents on the day at $85.65 per barrel.

As part of AAA Car Care Month, motor club offers tips for a better experience with your repair shop

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 18, 2012) – A trip to the auto repair shop can be intimidating if you don’t know much about your vehicle or have had a negative experience in the past. However, AAA says a trip to the repair shop can be much easier—and less stressful—if you select a quality facility and do a little preparation before going in for a visit.

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When taking a car to a shop for maintenance or repair, AAA recommends motorists do the following:

  • Write down notes on the vehicle’s symptoms and performance beforehand so important information is not overlooked or forgotten. Include all of your observations, even if they seem silly or irrelevant.
  • Describe the symptoms to the technician rather than suggesting solutions. Explain what has been seen, smelled, heard and felt while driving the vehicle. For example, does it vibrate or pull to the left? Explain under what type of driving conditions the problem takes place and how long ago it started.
  • Try to be precise. For example, “a rattle under the hood starts at 40 mph” or “the smell occurs only on cold days after the engine has been running for 10 minutes.”
  • When describing symptoms, refer to the driver or passenger side of the vehicle rather than the right or left side.
  • Resist the temptation to use technical jargon unless you are absolutely sure what it means. Explain what is being experienced in terms that minimize the possibly of misinterpretation or misdiagnosis.
  • If the vehicle has been serviced recently, bring copies of the previous repair orders rather than trying to explain what work was done.

There also are some things motorists can do to help protect themselves from unexpected charges or unneeded repairs. AAA recommends that motorists:

  • Read the repair order before authorizing any work. Look for specific instructions outlining what the technician is supposed to do. If there is vague language, such as ‘fix engine noise,’ ask that the repair order be rewritten. If you want to see the parts that will be replaced, be sure to let the shop know before work begins so they can set them aside for you.
  • Ask questions if terms used are not easily understood or something is not clearly explained. A quality repair shop should be willing to take the time necessary to clearly explain the work to be done in advance of the repair. If the service advisor is unable to satisfactorily explain a job, or suggests the repair is too complicated to explain, get a second opinion from another shop.
  • When picking up the car, read over the bill and question any charges that are not clear. Insist on descriptions of parts, not just the part numbers, on the final invoice.

Finding a quality auto repair shop that can be trusted is key to a good auto repair experience. To assist motorists in their quest, AAA offers a free public service where it inspects and certifies auto repair facilities. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops must meet and maintain stringent quality standards for customer service, training, equipment and cleanliness. There are nearly 8,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. They can be located online at AAA.com/repair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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